Biotech entrepreneurs received very encouraging news this past week with the announcement by Pfizer that it is significantly changing its approach to biotechnology funding. Their new $600 million commitment to venture funding leads the change, notably allocating 25% of its available capital ($150 million) to early-stage neuroscience companies. Focus is now being placed on cutting-edge science from concept to products, expanding the breadth and depth of Pfizer’s support of neuroscience research.
Pfizer Ventures will oversee this equity investment model which also includes expanding its venture team to engage more deeply in venture capital investing, business development, drug discovery and clinical development. They also are consolidating R&D Innovate, Pfizer’s R&D equity investment vehicle, with Pfizer Venture Investments, its long-standing venture investment group.
“By changing the way we invest in neuroscience, we hope to support an energized community of biotech entrepreneurs who are progressing the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neurologic diseases and help advance potential treatments for people with neurological conditions,” said Denis Patrick, Ph.D., Vice President, Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development and Managing Partner of Pfizer Ventures.
Pfizer Ventures’ areas of focus will include neuro-degeneration, neuro-inflammation and neuro-metabolic disorders, and other areas where there is great potential to have rapid breakthroughs for patients.
This latest fund follows Pfizer’s launch of the specialized Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) in 2015 that invests in novel science to create meaningful new medicines for dementia. Since its launch DDF has raised more than $190 million resulting in an initial portfolio of 12 investments in dementia drug discovery companies and projects. Aquinnah is an example of such funding---advancing two exciting neurodegenerative programs in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s disease.
Pfizer Ventures now manages an investment portfolio of more than 40 companies. Their $500 million invested to date and its new fund brings Pfizer Ventures’ total assets under management to more than $1 billion.